Fourteen Brainerd residents will soon get a taste of Jamaica.
A group from Trinity Lutheran Church in Brainerd will travel to Montego Bay, Jamaica.
It’s the first mission trip to the country for the church, running from July 5-12.
“It’s something spiritual being the hands and feet of Jesus,” said Tracy Jeremiason, one of the people going on the trip.
In the past, a group from the church traveled to Tanzania, working on projects such as landscaping and building a sewer and septic system.
This year, the church wasn’t able to go there, so members started brainstorming other countries.
Tracy and another member suggested Jamaica. She had been there in the past with a previous church on several mission trips. She knew the need. She’s seen it first-hand.
“So many people picture Jamaica with sandy beaches,” she said. “That’s the outer layer. If you go half a mile into the island, you see extreme poverty.”
There are kids with no shoes and empty bellies. Adults living on the streets.
It’s with mission trips like this, Tracy said, that connections are built and projects can continue on long after a group heads back to the states.
It will be Tracy’s daughter Kalie’s first trip outside of the U.S. Sure, Tracy was pregnant with Kalie during one of her trips to Jamaica, but Kalie doesn’t count that.
Tracy has always wanted to let 13-year-old Kalie experience a mission trip.
“It expands your world view,” she said.
While in Jamaica, the group, made up of people ranging in age from 11 to mid-40s, will visit several orphanages.
At one, they will take the children to the beach and have some quality play time. At another, they will hold babies that often don’t get personal touch. The group will bring 16 hand-made quilts to another group home and teach the girls crafts and sewing.
At the mission center where the group will spend the night, they will help fund bringing in outdoor chairs and a tent for church services.
For Kalie, the trip is just about putting a smile on people’s faces.
“It’s important in people’s lives to smile and be happy,” she said. “It’s hard to be happy when you’re in poverty. When you’re living like that, you find yourself in the dark a lot. Smiling is like a weight lifted off your shoulders.”
Tracy added, “It adds to the quality of life to know someone cares.”
Both say those who go on the trip will probably get more out of it that those they meet in Jamaica.
“It’s going to have an impact on my life,” Kalie said. “It’s going to help me to be more thankful for what I have.”
The church will work on building relationships with churches other countries, Tracy said. That way, more mission trips could come out of it.
“It’s all God’s world,” Kalie said. “We want to connect with others and be one with all of God’s children.”